Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Wireless London event

I went along to the Wireless London event at the AA yesterday evening. The event comprised a short introduction by Julian Priest, author of the report on Wireless London published last year; a 30 minute talk from Armin Medosch and a further 30 minute talk by Usman Haque. The stated aim was to explore the relationship between wireless technology and architecture. Not sure that this first event managed this as the speakers (though excellent) didn't really engage with each other directly. However this just shows how difficult it is to get a handle on such a nebulous notion...
Armin gave a good overview of wireless technology and sketched out its potential as a technology to allow people to become producers rather than just consumers of content, through building their own free networks. However he was at pains to stress his opposition to the idea of technological determinism-- just because a technology exists doesn't mean that it will be used in a particular way. I agree with this-- too often technology is feted or slated on the basis that it can bring about a particular utopia (or dystopia). This notion disempowers people. Technology is only a tool-- it's what people do with it that matters...
Usman Haque described some very interesting projects building on the idea of fields (electromagnetic and Hertzian). My friend pointed out that he was very much an architect in his desire to make beautiful things (which they were, particularly Sky Ear).
Both speakers gave very interesting talks so it was a little disappointing that they didn't speak more to the intersection between architecture and wireless (even defining that is not easy!). Usman was just coming on to some interesting stuff on RFID and Ubiquitous Computing from an architectural standpoint, but ran out of time.
I think this was reflected in the questions afterwards in that they covered a wide range of topics from the dangers of mobile phones to possible software applications and projects that might run on free networks. (I suggested looking at the Bryant Park project as an example of work in the field). An excellent networking session in the AA restaurant followed with plenty of opportunities to engage with the speakers and fellow audience members. All in all, an interesting evening.
Just came across this-- a summit on Reciprocity, Design and Social Networks at the Banff Centre in Canada last year. Can't find any published material on it. A pity since it seems to address some of the stuff I wrote about last June.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

nicely blogged! Thanks for coming :)

You're right, perhaps there could have been more direct crossover, if we'd had a bit more time. In the end though, I think that kind of synthesis will start after the talks series..

There were tantalising glimpses of this kind of thinking in both usman and armin's talks... and I really hope that this begins to develop into some new ways of thinking about cities - not necessarily for architects and 'non-architects' - but for us users...

12:06 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry - should have signed that last post : Saul.

ps: have you come across ?

12:07 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bryant Park Link:

anything special about this apart from it being free
and using a captive portal? funding?

2:24 p.m.  
Blogger Léan said...

I first read about this project in Anthony Townsend's dissertation last year -- he sketches out the project and potential applications in Chapter 6 (worth a read-- They did perform some interesting physical modifications to the equipment in order to camouflage it. I guess the most interesting part of the project(at least in his write-up of it) was the acknowledgement that the presence of the virtual network might have some influence on the physical space itself-- an idea which doesn't typically receive much attention. I thought that they had been able to develop some applications to explore this further, but on re-reading the chapter I find that this didn't happen (at time of his writing at least) due to lack of funds. He does outline some interesting ideas for what could be built though.

1:17 p.m.  

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